TRAVERSE CITY — Carla Weaver’s skies are now Empire blue.
“That’s where my heart is,” Weaver said. “I grew up in northern Indiana but my grandparents had a house in Empire and my parents had a house here, and whenever we hit Cadillac my mom would say ‘Girls, look, the sky is Empire blue.’ We knew we were almost there.”
Weaver remembered that story when naming her new business Empireblu Vintage Furnishings, where she sells reclaimed antique furniture, other artists’ wares and a line of natural-based paint.
Empireblu opened June 6 in a new building next to the Tru Fit Trouser building on Woodmere Avenue in Traverse City. It’s a small store decorated with rustic furniture fixed up with fresh paint, displays of natural stone jewelry, hand-made candles, antique signs and photographs transferred on reclaimed wood.
Weaver was a Montessori teacher for 20 years and fixed furniture on the side. She started working on furniture full-time three years ago and opened Empireblu when space at The Red Dresser, where she used to sell her work, became tight.
“My family has always redone furniture and it just happened,” Weaver said. “It’s therapeutic … it’s lots of fun to just create something.”
Going into business on her own was easy, and Weaver filled the store with other artists’ work in just two weeks.
“It took no time. The biggest challenge was finding a place and I was struggling with where I wanted to be,” she said. “My friend Eric who owns this was like, ‘Just come look here.’ I fell in love. I think it’s such a cool space.”
Empireblu opened in one of the new buildings next to the Tru Fit Trouser Building. Owner Eric Gerstner calls the development the Tru Fit Trouser Community, and said he built the structures to create more space for businesses on Woodmere Avenue, as an alternative to downtown.